by Lydia Schrandt for USA TODAY 10Best

Explore Dutch Sint Maarten on this virtual tour

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Sint Maarten - St. Martin is the smallest landmass in the world divided by two nations. The Dutch half of the island is known for its white sand beaches, turquoise waters and European flair.

Sun seekers in Sint Maarten have plenty of beaches to choose from, including the secluded Cupecoy Beach. Surrounded by limestone cliffs, this stretch of sand near the French border attracts surfers and sunbathers in equal measure.

This island has long been a popular port of call for cruise ships. For many visitors, the capital of Philipsburg is a first stop. The Philipsburg Boardwalk runs nearly the entire length of the Great Bay waterfront.

Front Street, the main drag, features a collection of souvenir shops, jewelry stores, parfumeries and other shops, all with duty-free status.

The cupola-topped Philipsburg Courthouse on Front Street ranks among the most important and emblematic sites on the island. Built in 1793, the building was once the home of the town’s founder, Captain John Philips.

The 2-mile-long Great Bay Beach ranks as a favorite among visitors for its close proximity to the cruise port and shopping of Front Street.

One of the best ways to explore the scenic shores of Sint Maarten is with a paddle in hand. Calm, warm waters and stellar scenery make the island an excellent kayaking destination for paddlers of all levels.

The waters just off the shores of Sint Maarten provide a habitat for a colorful assortment of sea life, including corals, sea turtles, rays and tropical fish.

Maho Beach might just be Sint Maarten’s most famous attraction, and it’s not because of the white sand and azure water. The beach’s proximity to the airport means that planes fly closely overhead as they land.

If you’ve had enough of the noisy spectacle at Maho Bay, head to nearby Mullet Bay Beach for a quiet alternative. This somewhat secluded beach is popular among locals.

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